Glass  Making in Hayle

Glass making in Hayle is often overlooked by historians researching its industrial past in favour of the more obvious employers such as the Cornish Copper Company and Harvey and Sons.

The Cornish Glassworks (1917-19) and its successor, the Pentowan Glass Works (1920-25) were very short-lived enterprises, using sand from Hayle Towans and china clay waste from St Austell.  Due to the chemical properties of both of these components they could only produce dark coloured glass, the high percentage of iron producing dark brown or dark green tints which only had limited sales as beer bottles for the local Hayle and Redruth Breweries.

The Cornish Glass Works utilised the furnace chimney of the previous owners of the site, the Pentowan Calcining Works which for fifty years refined arsenic extracted from the spoil heaps and abandoned workings of the nearby Wheal Lucy tin mine.

The Pentowan Glass Bottle Co. were more ambitious in its approach to the problems of its predecessor.  They installed a furnace capable of producing 10 tons of molten glass and improved the output of 300 gross of 12oz bottles per week with an additional plan to recycle glass as a raw material, which would allow the Bottle Company to also produce glass for manufacturing jam jars, medicine, and sauce bottles.  Unfortunately, like the previous enterprise, it failed to be viable and closed in 1925.

After the Pentowan Glass Bottle Co. closed the buildings were abandoned and, with the exception of the chimney, later demolished by I.C.I, who used the site to build the Associated Octel Bromine Extraction Plant in 1939.  This was SGP3, a secret war project which ran until 1945, producing the ‘anti-knock’ ingredient for aviation fuel.  I.C.I retained the Chemical Works in Hayle until 1973 when the plant was closed, and, with the exception of two buildings on North Quay, was totally demolished.

Georgina Schofield.